Senate: Democratic Retirements Raise Questions About Political Support For Health ReformPolitico's Live Pulse blog: "The retirement announcements from Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) [are] unlikely have a direct impact on the final push for health care legislation, Democratic and health care insiders said Wednesday." Dodd had a key role as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee in drafting an early version of health reform and Dorgan was also a yes vote on reform. Dorgan's retirement, however, "was a reminder of the difficulty that the health care votes pose to Democrats in Republican-leaning states. Reacting to the Dorgan loss, moderates will likely redouble their insistence on a fiscally-restrained package that mirrors the more conservative Senate bill" (Budoff Brown, 1/6).
The Washington Times: "While two Senate Democrats already have seen the handwriting on the wall and bailed out of re-election races, five others trail Republicans in states where President Obama and his trillion-dollar health-care-reform plan are increasingly unpopular." Dodd, who said he was in "the toughest political shape" of his career, "acknowledged that wining re-election in 2010 would be difficult but said his recent bout with cancer and the deaths of a sister and Senate colleague Ted Kennedy contributed to his decision." He decided not to continue with this campaign on Christmas Eve. "In North Dakota, Mr. Dorgan was getting pummeled by Republican Gov. John Hoeven, trailing by 19 points, according to the latest Zogby poll. Just 30 percent favor the proposed health-care-reform plan, and Mr. Obama's popularity among state voters has fallen to just 41 percent" (Curl, 1/6). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.